Jacob’s Cross

This is based on a true life story

I understand that there may be some of you reading this that know this person I am writing of, however I would plead with you to help maintain this person’s anonymity. The purpose of the story is to enlighten, not to report. This is a story about the ills of our society, the decadence and corruption in our Educational system, the rot! in…(okay, nuff English!). Basically though, let us take this opportunity and pass the message on, learning from the mistakes and preparing for our own battles.

My name is Jacob, and this is my story. I apologise if perhaps I am disturbing your busy schedule with this tale of mine, but I tell this with teary eyes and a broken voice, and I beg you to listen.
Six years ago, I gained admission to study in a Nigerian University. My parents were overjoyed. We gave thanksgivings in church, my Father sent lots of gifts from the States where he works to provide for the family, my uncles and aunts all sent messages and celebrated with me. It is not as though my admission was long overdue, far from that, rather it was the nature in which I gained this admission that occasioned so much celebration, as it was nothing short of miraculous.

I had been in my final class in Secondary school, still debating whether I would write the UME exams for entrance into University. You see, I am quite young by normal standards, but a teacher of mine, Mrs Harris, who had always praised my potential, encouraged me. So I bought my form on the last day, and enrolled for the exam.
Come the exam date, on the way to the venue, my bus was involved in a terrible accident on that Ikorodu-Oworonshoki expressway. To GOD be the Glory, no one died, but everybody in the bus sustained injuries and had to be rushed to the nearest hospital. That is, everybody except me. I had no injuries of any kind, not even a scratch despite it being my side of the bus that the eighteen-wheeler trailer had slammed into. So I proceeded to the exam hall that day, visibly shaken, and wrote the paper.
While no one really held much hope for my success in the exam, due to the near-fatal experience I had just minutes before entering the hall, I nevertheless delved deep into my books as I prepared for the WASSCE O’ levels later that year. So it was more than a surprise, it was an absolute shock, when I not only scaled through the UME, but also went on to write the newly introduced Post-UME and got admission into one of the most prestigious Universities in Southern Nigeria. By the time the results of the WASSCE O’ levels were released, I discovered I had several distinctions there too, and my parents joy was complete.
So it was that with much expectation and joy that I started classes at the University. The favour and grace that had got me thus far was going to see me through every step of the way. I was wrong.

Janus Aneni is looking at me as I tell this tale, he looks like he wants to cry. He understands this.

Anyway, my first two years went by in a blur of social and academic activities. I made friends easily, I did well in school. My grades were not always perfect, but I was a comfortable B’ student, and coupled with my social activities in both church and club, I was turning out to be quite the all-rounder. Then I got to the tail end of my penultimate year, and that was when the so-called lucky streak came to an end.
If you’ve ever attended a Nigerian University, either Federal or State owned, or even any of the private universities, including those ‘Church schools’, you would definitely know the meaning of the word ‘Blocking’. In my school, the phenomenom of blocking is more like an art form. Certain people have perfected this art and are now masters. If the entire University was in the Renaissance era, then my department was where Leonardo da Vinci and Michaelangelo lived and breathed. There was a joke we had then; that if Adam and Eve had been able to ‘block’ my lecturers, they would definitely have been allowed to stay in the Garden.
Basically ‘blocking’, in English, involves the bribing of a lecturer in form of money, favours (including sexual), or some other form of barter in order for him to favour you in his course, or any order course that mau come under his direct or indirect jurisdiction. After blocking, people have been known to move from the E’ category (40-45%) into the B’ category (65-70%), a 20%+ jump which is facilitated by the greasing of hungry palms.

So here I was, a greatly favoured, high potential kid, with dreams of the future on a head-on collision with a master ‘blocking’ artist.
Sometimes I blame my naivete. Perhaps if I had been less naïve, I would have understood how the game was played and make my moves on time. But instead, I stayed ignorant while the warnings were given and soon, as we entered into our final year, I came face-to-face with the devil.
During the lecturers draw for potential seminar and project students, my name happened to fall (whether by cursed fate or design, I cannot tell), in the hands of this man. Now, despite my obvious naivete, I had heard of him before and I knew all about his ‘blocking’ prowess. If the blocking art was a mafia project, that man would be the Don. Yes Janus, he was that good. In the world of nefarious dealings, that man like the slimy octopus reigned supreme. His tentacles were spread everywhere (among both lecturers and students alike) and upon his enemies and those who dared to challenge him, he spewed black ink and disgrace, plotting his every scheme with the patience of a true artist. A born devil. But I don’t mean to praise him, I was the fool.
When we had our first meeting as Supervisor and student, he was offacious, beaming at me with a wide smile, chipped brown teeth glaring at me in a grin that would scare a barracuda. So helpful and considerate was he, offering to help with any problem I had with his course or any other. So courteous was he that I began to reconsider my past objectives of him, and thus I began to defend him before all who chose to soil such good name. There was no way this smiling, helpful man was a wicked old fool who cared not one bit about the profession or the students and was only concerned about lining his own pockets. But like Aizen Sousuke said; ‘There is a wide difference between trust and knowledge’.

I had never been ‘wronger’ in my life.

By the next semester, the leopard had switched his spots. Calling me up to his office, he queried me on my absence, swearing by Okoro and all the Urhobo gods that he had never seen me before. While I struggled and stuttered in my confused state to recouncile this new monster to the old genial fellow I knew before, he told me to shut up and asked in simple words:
“Have you even seen me before?”
Foolishly, I blurted out that he had been the one who gave me my project topic, helped with my seminar presentation etc. Failing to take into cognizance the double entendre of his words. The master of metaphor took one long disappointed look at me, and threw me out of his office.

To be continued…


  • His name is not Jacob
  • i will not tell you his name
  • i’m not sure Aizen Sousuke actually said those words

that said, have a fun weekend!


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